Telangana BJP leader sets campaign tone with threat to demolish Sectt domes

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Hyderabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Telangana is looking for emotive issues for polarisation as it embarked on a major state-wide exercise to bolster its prospects in the Assembly elections scheduled later this year.

State BJP chief Bandi Sanjay launched 15-day-long campaign on February 10 with a threat to demolish domes of new Secretariat building if his party was voted to power in the next elections. He says the domes of the new Secretariat reflect the culture of Nizam and hence they will be demolished if BJP was voted to power.

BJP will be conducting 11,000 street corner meetings across the state till February 25. With the slogan “People’s issues BJP’s assurance (Praja Gosa, BJP Bharosa)” the meetings will be held in all 118 Assembly constituencies in the state.

The campaign is aimed at exposing the failures of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government and highlighting achievements of the BJP-led government at the Centre.

Senior party leaders have been made in-charges of the Assembly constituencies to oversee the campaign. Speakers at the street corner meetings are speaking about the alleged irregularities and failures of the BRS government.

This is the first state-wide campaign undertaken by the BJP as part of its Mission 2023 to come to power in the state.

Sanjay set the tone for the street meetings and perhaps for the poll campaign by raking up a controversy. Known as a rabble-rouser, the MP from Karimnagar is apparently trying to build a narrative which suits the party’s game plan to capture power.

Political observers say the BJP leader deliberately chooses an issue to polarise voters. Addressing a street corner meeting in Kukatpally constituency in Hyderabad, he trained guns at BRS and its friendly party All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

BJP leaders have been targeting BRS over alleged policy of minority appeasement and its friendly ties with AIMIM.

It’s in this context that Sanjay faulted with the design of new Secretariat building to train guns on BRS and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

He went on to the extent of threatening that if voted to power, BJP would demolish the domes of the new state Secretariat building as they reflect the culture of Nizams.

Sanjay alleged that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao turned the secretariat into a tomb like the Taj Mahal to please AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi.

“If BJP comes to power, it will destroy the symbols of Nizam’s culture in the state. We will make changes in the state secretariat so that it reflects the Indian and Telangana culture,” he said.

The seven-storey structure with a built-up area of 7 lakh square feet built at a cost of nearly Rs 650 crore is ready for the inauguration.

The state government has named the new Secretariat complex after Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Chief Minister KCR already stated that it reflects the pride of Telangana and would stand as a role model for other states.

Sanjay alleged that BRS and AIMIM are one and the same. He said the two parties, which were sharing power in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), were enacting a drama for the Assembly elections.

He was apparently referring to AIMIM floor leader in Telangana Assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi’s statement that his party would contest 50 seats in the coming Assembly elections. Owaisi had also exuded confidence that AIMIM would win 15 seats, up from the current seven seats.

The BJP leader dared AIMIM to contest all Assembly seats if it was sincere in taking on BRS.

Going a step ahead, Sanjay challenged municipal administration and urban development minister K.T. Rama Rao to demolish mosques on roads in the old city of Hyderabad, considered a stronghold of AIMIM.

This is not the first time that the state BJP chief has sparked a controversy with his remarks.

Sanjay had allegedly delivered a hate speech in May. Complaints were filed against him at various police stations in the state for making provocative remarks against mosques and madarsas.

The BJP leader demanded digging under all mosques. Alleging that Muslim rulers in Telangana demolished several temples and built mosques over them, he demanded digging work at all mosques, saying there was a possibility of finding Shiva Lingams underneath.

The BJP MP also stated that if BJP comes to power in Telangana, it will abolish all madrasas, do away with reservation for Muslims, and remove Urdu as the second official language.

The saffron party has been trying to exploit sensitive issues for political mileage. Be it KCR’s friendship with Owaisi, four per cent reservation for Muslims, the state government not officially celebrating September 17, second official language to the state or the demand to rename Hyderabad as Bhagynagar, the BJP leaders always tried to look for issues which lead to communal polarisation.

The BJP has been on the offensive ever since it bagged four Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2019 and scored victories in two Assembly by-elections and significantly increased its tally in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

Projecting BJP as the only viable alternative, the party leaders see a realistic chance of coming to power in the state in 2023.

Political analysts say historically BJP has been raking up emotive issues which could help in garnering votes of the majority community, especially in constituencies in and around Hyderabad and other urban pockets of the state.

They say Muslim rule in erstwhile Hyderabad State, the tumultuous developments of post-Independence leading to Hyderabad’s accession with Indian Union, the political domination of AIMIM in parts of Hyderabad and the alleged appeasement policies of successive governments- all provide ammunition to the BJP’s polarisation politics.

After Bandi Sanjay became the BJP state president in 2020, the party has gone into an overdrive to draw political mileage from sensitive issues. In what is seen as an attempt to challenge AIMIM on its home turf, he launched his state-wide Praja Sangram Yatra from Bhagyalaxmi temple abutting historic Charminar.

In fact this temple, whose legality was questioned several times in the past sparking communal tensions, has become the focal point of BJP’s politics over last couple of years.

BJP launched its poll campaign in GHMC elections in 2020 from the same temple. It was also visited by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during GHMC polls and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in July during BJP’s national executive committee meeting here.

BJP MLA Raja Singh’s suspension by the party after he uploaded a video containing derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad last year was seen as an attempt by the saffron party’s central leadership to avoid another embarrassment at the international level after Nupur Sharma’s offensive remarks.

As his derogatory video sparked massive protests and even led to disturbances, the BRS government cracked the whip by sending him to jail after invoking Preventive Detention (PD) Act.

The MLA from Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad has 101 criminal cases registered against him since 2004. According to police, he was involved in 18 communal offences.

The tone and tenor of BJP leaders at public meetings in recent months show that Raja Singh was not just a flash in the pan. Bandi Sanjay and other state BJP leaders too have been making provocative statements.

With Assembly elections a few months away, political observers believe that the saffron party will raise the pitch of its divisive politics to capture power.

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( With inputs from )

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